Afua Atta-Mensah

Executive Director

Afua Atta-Mensah is CVH’s new Executive Director, starting September 2016. She had served as a member of CVH’s Board of Directors since 2008, so she is already very invested in CVH’s mission and vision   Afua, who is a Harlem resident, holds a law degree from Fordham Univ. School of Law, and a BA in Sociology and African American History from Trinity College.  

CVH is a leading New York nonprofit that develops ad guides civic leaders, grassroots organizations and neighborhood activist as they take powerful, concrete steps to improve their lives and their communities. From Ghana, West Africa to the United States, Afua has worked to empower women, improve the quality and quantity of fair and equitable housing, defend women's rights and galvanize support for programs benefiting low-income families.

She was awarded the Fulbright Fellowship in support of her work at the International Federation of Women Attorneys advocating on behalf of indigent women in Ghana. She represents these women in court helped draft proposed legislation to criminalize marital rape and was a visiting university lecturer. She also worked with area lawyers to develop proposed legislation for marital rape law and served as a visiting lecturer at Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology , where she taught a course on women's rights in the context of Ashanti-tribal law.

Between 2012 and 2016,Afua was the Urban Justice Center’s Director of Litigation for the Safety Net Project. During her tenure,the project filed a federal lawsuit that pressured former Mayor Michael Bloomberg to abandon a proposal to demolish Public Housing playgrounds and community centers so developers could build high-priced apartment towers. Under Afua,the Safety Net Project also challenged mayoral candidates to stay overnight with host families in public housing to experience firsthand the deplorable conditions public housing residents are exposed. That innovative strategy brought a media spotlight and the government's attention residents plight.

As CVH Executive Director, Afua is currently leading a grassroots fight against a city proposal to rezone a huge portion of East Harlem for residential towers and "infill" public housing property with new development. Additionally, CVH is demanding that Mayor de Blasio's administration first allocate $200 million to fix and upgrade existing public housing buildings and increase the number affordable units for families making $23,000 and less.

Michelle Perez

Director of Development & Administration

Michelle joined Community Voices Heard as Development Director in May 2002. She is very pleased to turn her efforts to economic justice projects after having worked in fundraising for arts/community development organizations for 19 years. She has previously worked for the Jamaica Center for Arts and Learning, Meet The Composer, the NYC Department of Cultural Affairs, and The Joffrey Ballet. Michelle has a BA degree in Economics/Political Economy from Barnard College, and has done graduate work in business administration at New York University. Michelle was also a member of the Fall 2015 cohort of the NY Community Trust Leadership Fellows program.

Stephen Roberson

Director of Organizing

Stephen Roberson joined the staff of CVH as our Organizing Director in 2013.  Immediately prior to working with CVH, he was the Deputy Director of Organizing for Local 32BJ where he helped in the organizing of Security Officers, food service workers and other low wage workers throughout the east coast jurisdiction of the local which included work in Florida.  Before that he worked for 24 years at the Industrial Areas Foundation as an associate organizer, a lead organizer and a member of the National Staff, where he helped in organizing and developing The Nehemiah Plan which has become a key component in providing a way for working class New Yorkers access to ownership in a system that makes it difficult for the majority to own housing in New York City.   He first cut his teeth in organizing with the United Farmworkers Union where he spent 10 years as a part of the boycott of lettuce and grape boycotts.  Stephen grew up in Northern New Jersey, in a community which was majority white with a small, primarily African American population that was working class and poor.  He learned a lot through his church and community relationships about what it feels like to experience growing up as a minority in that kind of community in America.  He learned the importance of family and how critical having relationships with people who would stand with you is when the going gets tough.

Juanita O. Lewis

Hudson Valley Organizing Director

Juanita joined CVH in 2009 as the Yonkers Organizer. She was born and raised in Saint Paul, MN. She graduated from the University of Minnesota-Twin Cities with a B.A. in History and Political Science, and with her Masters of Advocacy and Political Leadership Degree from the University of Minnesota-Duluth.

She began her work as a community organizer with the Minnesota chapter of ACORN. Since 2004, she has worked on numerous electoral campaigns at the city, state and federal level in different staffing capacities.

She currently is the Lead Westchester organizer, for Community Voices Heard. Juanita develops community members into leaders that work on strategic issue based campaigns that bring the issues of low-income people to the forefront.

Juanita is trainer for the non-partisan women’s political group called, VoteRunLead and a member of several political and social groups such as, Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority Incorporated, Sierra Leonean cultural heritage group called, Krio Descendants Union, board member of African Communities Together, Yonkers Chapter of the Black's Women's Political Caucus, Secretary- Treasurer of Westchester Young Democrats and Hudson Valley Region Vice Chair for Young Democrats Caucus of Color. In her spare time, she enjoys reading, going to Zumba and or kickboxing, spending time with close friends and family.

Julia Solow

Westchester County Organizer

Julia Solow began at CVH in November 2013 as a Westchester County Community Organizer based out of the Yonkers office. Ms. Solow brings a background in community organizing, program development and research through her experiences as a MSW Field Intern at the Latino Leadership Institute, Member Mobilization Intern with the AFL-CIO National Campaigns Department in DC, an AmeriCorps VISTA volunteer with John Carroll University’s Center for Service and Social Action in Cleveland and an organizer with the DREAM Act movement. Ms. Solow is bilingual in English and Spanish and is dedicated to building inclusive movements for social and economic justice in the home, the community and the workplace.

Gabriel Strachota

NYC Chapter Lead Organizer

After working as a boost organizer in CVH’s participatory budgeting campaign in early 2014, Gabriel joined CVH’s staff as the new NYC Chapter Organizer. Gabriel first became politically active in the lead up to the wars in the Iraq when his mother brought him massive anti-war protests happening throughout the northeast. After graduating from high school in 2005 Gabriel went to New Orleans to work with the People’s Hurricane Relief Fund. His time there working under veteran Black leadership for a just rebuilding of the city would set him on his life path as an anti-racist organizer. After getting his feet wet in New Orleans Gabriel would go on to learn the basic skills of community organizing in ACORN in Massachusetts, and eventually pursue further training in at Labor Community Strategy Center’s National School for Strategic Organizing in Los Angeles. In 2008 Gabriel joined the Labor Community Strategy Center’s staff as an organizer for the Bus Riders Union where he would work for five years doing base building work and political education. In late 2013 he moved back to the east coast and looks forward to working with public housing residents to build power in their struggle for dignity and justice. Gabriel was elevated to NYC Chapter Lead Organizer in July 2016

Susannah Dyen

Jobs Organizer

Susannah joined the CVH team in January 2016. She organizes with people struggling to find decent work that sustains their families as well as those on public assistance. Prior to coming to CVH, she worked in post-Sandy recovery and rebuilding first with Occupy Sandy, primarily in Staten Island and later in the Rockaways, and then at ALIGN coordinating the Alliance for a Just Rebuilding, a coalition of over 40 labor unions and community, faith-based, environmental and policy organizations – of which CVH was a steering committee member. She has worked on several electoral campaigns and as a union organizer. Susannah earned a Masters in City & Regional Planning from Rutgers University with a specialization in community-based response to disaster, a BA from Barnard College, and has additional professional experience as a Geospatial Information Systems (GIS) and data analyst.  Susannah is interested in weaving arts and culture into movement spaces and campaign work. 

Jordan Taylor

Dutchess County Organizer

Jordan Taylor was born in Brooklyn, New York and raised in Spring Valley, New York. Jordan joined CVH in January 2017. He double majored in Political Science and Black Studies at SUNY New Paltz, where he graduated in 2015. During his time on campus he organized with students around tuition increases, social justice, and building institutional student power on campus. After college Jordan moved to Poughkeepsie to get involved with local Black Lives Matter organizing that began around the murder of Samuel Harrell, and is currently a member of Black Lives Matter Hudson Valley. Over the course of 2016 Jordan has gotten increasingly involved in community organizing working on the Nick Mosby Mayoral campaign in Baltimore, directing a canvass operation on education issues for NYSUT, and pushing for the One Fair Wage campaign with Citizen Action. Jordan is also an aspiring writer, actor, and comedian and looks forward to incorporating these art forms and many others in his organizing.  

Keisha A. Spigner

Communications & Giving Manager

Keisha A. Spigner recently joined Community Voices Heard as the Individual Giving and Events Coordinator in September 2017. Prior to joining CVH, Keisha worked as an individual giving consultant to raise thousands of dollars for transformative programs that amplify the voices of working class communities and queer communities of color. Believing that organized money and people are key to building power, Keisha also worked on campaigns to reclaim public lands and increase affordable housing for black and brown communities. As the child of a Ghanaian immigrant, Keisha is dedicated to disrupting and dismantling systemic violence and oppression as well as the inequitable distribution of resources and power that leave working class communities vulnerable.

Yolanda Pickering

Administrative Assistant

Yolanda Pickering began at Community Voices Heard in March of 2017 as an administrative assistant. Born and raised in Queens, she learned the importance of Community Engagement when she relocated to East Harlem. Drawing on her experiences from the New York City Department of Corrections she loves a challenge and fights for accountability for all.

She has an associates degree in Business, and is currently a semester away from her Bachelors.

In her free time, she enjoys reading, working out, and playing tennis. 

Shannon Barber

Ramarley Graham Youth Organizing Fellow

Shannon Barber began his organizing career at CVH as an organizer trainee over 15 years ago. He has organized around multiple issues ranging from welfare reform, public housing, climate change, youth issues as well as numerous electoral campaigns. His commitment to organizing has taken him around the country fighting for the rights of the most vunerable communities. CVH is glad to welcome Shannon back as the newly hired Ramarley Graham Youth Organizing Fellow! 

Quincine Evans

NYC Chapter Organizer

Quincine Evans began organizing in 2010 .She started out doing community organizing in local communities but transitioned to labor with SEIU- organizing fast food workers in the 'Fight for $15' to increase wages and improve working conditions. As one of the original organizers she aided in taking the campaign international. Since that time Quincine has built relationships with government agencies to support campaign goals. She has strong leadership abilities and is equally effective in supportive roles. Currently, Quincine has joined the Community Voices Heard (CVH) organizing team in NYC to work with NYCHA residents for better living conditions.